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New Fitness Center Brings a SPIRIT of Wellness to Southeast

Denise Rolark-Barnes | 3/10/2010, 11:08 a.m.

High above the bustling streets of historic Anacostia where hints of an economic renaissance dot the main corridor along Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, sits, an oasis where residents can rejuvenate their minds, bodies and souls.

SPIRIT Fitness, the brainchild of The Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, located on the fifth and penthouse floors of the new Salvation Army Building at 2300 Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue in Southeast, provides an holistic haven to those who enter. The Anacostia Health and Wellness Center which opened in October 2009 contains state-of-the-art exercise equipment and a variety of classes that includes African dance, belly-dancing and Tai Chi, plus much more.
€We know there is a dire situation with the people in our community when it comes to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity,€ said SPIRIT manager Adama Zawadi, an associate minister at Union Temple.

€We knew there needed to be a response, so the thrust was [to stay] in the community and to have a facility that was accessible and reasonably priced.€
The fitness center is the first of its kind east of the Anacostia River. Tony€s Gym, not far away, welcomes the public but caters to aspiring pugilists. SPIRIT, however, focuses on overall health, with a wellness center on-site that identifies symptoms related to specific illnesses and pre-existing conditions, provides nutritional counseling, weight maintenance and tips for savvy shoppers who want to adopt a healthy and nutritional lifestyle.

Dee Smith, 46, of Ward 6, joined SPIRIT Fitness in February. She describes the center as being nice, the staff as helpful but most of all, it suits her budget. Smith said that she prefer health, over a smaller waistline.

€[It] is not about getting rid of the pounds, because I know that will happen, but getting fit; to get rid of these aches and pains. I€m not on any medication and that€s a blessing. My goal is to keep it that way.€

Smith€s friend Quita Ward, who lives in Southeast, said that she signed-up in January. Like Smith, it isn€t about inches or pounds. Health remains her top priority.
€I€ll be 40 this year, and I enjoyed it so I decided to stay. I don€t want to be skinny; I just want to be healthy,€ Ward said. So far, her favorite classes are Zumba and belly-dancing, she said.

The 7,500 square-foot-center boasts approximately 30 pieces of top caliber cardio equipment and free weights. It also has an aerobic exercise room with men€s and women€s locker room facilities complete with showers. The dcor -- gray walls with rich red accents €" might be considered dull, but massive windows shower the room with natural light along with a panoramic view of the nation€s capital. Five mounted television screens provide a distraction to those who are watching the clock while working up a sweat. The center€s rooftop features an open-air, figure eight track that overlooks the District -- a respite from the incessant city buzz below.
Parking continues to be an issue.

Zawadi said the fitness center maintains round-the-clock security and has made parking arrangements with Morgan€s Family Fish Fry and with Union Temple Baptist Church, at 16th and W Streets.

€A shuttle is provided for [those] who come late at night,€ Zawadi said, €so that people can feel safe and comfortable.€

Since the grand opening in December, nearly 500 members have joined but seniors remain the center€s most loyal clientele.

€Our elders are faithful and those with physical disabilities,€ Zawadi said.

€You can set your clock by them,€ she said.

The center operates Monday through Friday between the hours of 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturdays between the hours of 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For further information, call (202) 678-9775 or visit, www.spirithealthDC.com.